The De La Vergne enterprise has probably installed the entire refrigeration system of the Wielemans-Ceuppens Brewery. This New York-based company has installed dozens of them in the United States but also in Argentina, Philippines and Scotland. Among the establishments served by De La Vergne, there are chocolate factories, hotels, slaughterhouses... The company also produced "ice blocks" sold by the meter.
The pipes we see at the brewery nowaday do not seem to be those installed by De La Vergne, though. The diagrams and illustrations show different arrangements. It is also possible that the equipments have changed in accordance with new demands and safety norms.
The refrigeration system operated with ammoniac. However, we do not know either the dosage used or if it was blended with another fluid. It is important to note that ammoniac is very toxic and irritating. Besides, it is extremely polluting. Ammonia (the aqueous solution of ammoniac) ignites easily in the air. It remains one of the most synthesized chemical compounds in the world, being used primarily for the preparation of fertilizers and explosives. We cannot confirm it, but we believe that Wielemans-Ceuppens brewery used ammonia as coolant because of its excellent thermodynamic properties.
The gas produced by the compressor follows the pipes and evaporates after its release. This is what produces cold. The pipes and valves allow the control and regulation of the anhydrous ammonia.
Keep in mind that the machines room we are working in consists of compressors, steam machine, gas pipes and a general electrical board which controlled all the electrical installations of the brewery.
The Wielemans-Ceuppens Brewery painted pipes in yellow, following the safety regulation that determines the identification of gas ducts both in private and industrial settings.
The restoration consisted in cleaning the pipes with soap, sanding them with the help of wire brushes and, finally, applying the anti-rust treatment which gave them a beautiful glow. Some pipes are surrounded by plaster straps that were used to keep the cold.
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